It might be inadvisable to put up unfinished work. I don’t know. Anyway, I spent a large part of yesterday working a few comics panels. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of working using the computer instead of working at a drafting table. I haven’t added the word balloons or anything yet. I’m not really sure how the panels will be integrated into pages. The question of the medium in which it will be viewed is problematic.
So I just woke up after having one of those vivid dreams I’ve been having for the past couple of weeks. It’s probably because I was writing about Luscious, and the East Village in the eighties always makes me think about rock-and-roll and comics.
I met this petite, dark-haired woman who brought up the subject of comics. She talked about comics and I was eager to get to know her. She was quite a bit younger and I’d been out of the loop regarding comics for sometime. She told me about a women’s comics collective to which she belonged. We went back to her place and she showed me her work. We were in a big, cavernous, vaguely industrial space with a concrete floor, like an empty warehouse. She had a large, long wooden table and she opened a large portfolio upon it. Sheets of paper spilled out all over the table. One slipped towards me. Picking it up, I saw that it was a full color print of a comics page. There was a fully shaded and colored drawing of a classical building and characters walking in it. I glanced over at some of the other pages on the table. Some of the others were in black and white, much simpler in style.
She talked about how she was torn between doing more lushly illustrated work and actually getting stuff out on a daily basis and telling a story. The collective she was working with published regularly and that pushed her to work quickly. On the other hand, she missed being able to do detailed work like the one I was holding in my hand.
I nodded, my frustration with comics has always been how time-consuming it is.
While we were talking, one of her neighbors dropped in for a minute. He was an unkempt middle-aged fellow with messy dirty blond hair and a pot belly. He wore a yellow t-shirt, a pair of loose shorts and some flip-flops. He left after telling her something I don’t recall.
She suggested I come back later that evening when some of the women from the women’s comics collective were stopping by so I could meet them.
I was very eager to meet them, but I felt that I shouldn’t turn up empty-handed, so I picked up a six-pack and some food from Empire Szechuan. I used to live in the neighborhood and remembered that place. Her place was not an apartment, but a studio space in a building belonging to an art school. It was located in Chelsea and it should have been either Parson’s or SVA, both places where I’ve studied, but it was called The Guggenheim School and it resembled Breuer’s Whitney building if it had been reinterpreted by Rem Koolhaas. I’d give the address I knew in the dream, but it’s not a real building, so it doesn’t really matter. I ascended in a large elevator which resembled a stylish freight elevator. There were several people in there with me. The elevator was made of metal materials with an industrial feel. Cut out reveals allowed one to view the floors as they passed by.
The young woman’s space was not far off from the elevator itself. I was aware of white hallway off to the side, but I turned right, into the woman’s space. The group was much larger than I expected, and about a dozen women sat around the long table on which was laid out a large amount of Chinese take out. The women seemed much trendier than I had expected, or rather I should say that I hadn’t given it much thought before arriving. I suddenly felt old and dumpy. I was wearing the same thing I was wearing earlier that day, which was worse than my usual low standards. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I looked down at my chest vaguely hoping it was the Hernandez Brothers t-shirt Luscious had given me. No, it was a black t-shirt emblazoned with the name of a rock and roll band I didn’t even know in white and red letters. I was suddenly unsure how I had acquired the t-shirt and hoped no one would ask about it. At least, I thought, the Chinese take-out was the right choice. Suddenly, as if she could read my thoughts, one of the other women said, “We used to order from Empire Szechuan all the time, but we don’t anymore because they’re not as good as they used to be.” I put the container of food on the table and the women ate it anyway. Someone pulled out a magazine sized sheet of glossy paper and passed it around. On it there was a drawing of what looked like a Roman bath with nude and scantily clad people in the water and lolling about on the perimeter. During the conversation, it became evident that one of the group had been commissioned to do a drawing of a night club that had a large bath in the center. I had never heard of such a nightclub, but everyone else apparently had. I was aware of being very out-of-it and kept to myself during the conversation so as not to reveal what a dork I really was.
This being a dream, at some point I lost my clothes, which no one noticed.
I had to find the restroom, and I wandered off down the long, white hallway. The hallway was not straight. The walls were angled. Some were only a partial height, while others didn’t come all the way to the floor. So rather than the hallway being formed by two, solid parallel walls, it was suggested by a series of angled panels. The hallway was bright, but the source of the light was not visible. Instead, the light seemed all over and diffuse. It was disorienting, but not in an unpleasant way.
Momentarily, I was aware of being naked, but then I figured it was an art school and maybe people would just assume I was a model. The hallway was long, but since it wasn’t straight, I couldn’t see to the end. It seemed to go on and on. I walked by a series of studios, reminding me of when I went to go visit an acquaintance doing an MFA at Hunter. Either side of the hallway was lined with studios. There were no doorways and glimpses of the interiors of the studios could be seen as I walked by. Beyond the white screens I saw more nude people. At first I assumed they were models, but after a while it occurred to me that most of the artists were nude as well.
Finally, I came to the end of the hall. A bearded man with an odd accent asked, “Can I help you?” with the rising note at the end that indicates it’s really a polite way of asking “What are you doing here?”
I explained that I was looking for the restroom. He sniffed. “It’s back near the lift.”
So I walked back down the long white hallway. There were two young women sitting on chairs in the hallway who weren’t there before. In front of them they had laid out on the floor a large number of glossy 3 by 5 photos arranged in a grid. They were talking and pointing and it was obvious that they were comparing and discussing them. It appeared that the one woman was working on a project of which some of the photos would be a part and the second woman was giving her opinion. As I approached, I was unsure how I would get past. The photos extended from the feet of the women to the wall on the other side and they were collectively far too wide to jump over. “Oh, go ahead. Just walk by,” the one woman said, waving me past. I hesitated. “Really, it’s okay.”
I tip-toed over the pictures and they stuck to my feet a little. Somehow, I made it across with minimal disturbance to the photos.
“We just use the bathroom that’s up through there,” the other young woman said helpfully, pointing at a space I hadn’t noticed before. It was narrow and dark like a hallway or an emergency stairwell, but there weren’t stairs. Instead there was an angled piece of wood painted yellow. I walked up the piece of wood worrying that I might get stuck. I emerged onto the roof of the building which was covered with a large field extending to the horizon. The pot-bellied neighbor I met earlier was sunning himself on the roof along with his wife. They were both sitting in those low slung tubular aluminum beach chairs set side by side. I walked up to him and asked where the bathroom was. He answered that it was indeed nearby, but if I hadn’t been there before it would just be easier if I took the other staircase back and used the restroom near the elevator. His wife gave a friendly wave as I walked across the field to the other staircase.
The steps of this staircase were marble and I emerged on the first floor of a neoclassical townhouse. The formal office furniture gave me to understand that I was now in the administrative building of the school. An imperious woman at a desk gave me a look that made me realize that I was no longer in a part of the building where it was okay to be naked.
“You are looking for the studio building, I suppose,” she said.
I nodded and she pointed to a doorway. The doorway lead to a hallway with a wooden floor and the elaborate woodwork of a nineteenth century building. First I passed a door that lead to some classrooms, then I passed a wide staircase that led up to the dormitory. Finally, I came to another small, undistinguished door. I went through there and I was back in the Breuer/Koolhaas building, near the elevator.
End of dream.
From the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (Why, yes, I do have funny reading habits.): Some artwork by an Israeli comic artist, Rutu Modan, was defaced in an exhibition at a German university. Students also objected to some sexual scenes from Craig Thompson’s comic Habibi. Disappointingly, the university decided to respond by closing the exhibit.
Good Reads has an article on why people stop reading a book and a fun graphic on which books are most frequently abandoned. The fact that Fifty Shades of Gray and Eat, Pray, Love are on the list has restored my faith in women.
Over at the Daily Banter, I found an article on the relationship between Libertarianism and racism. It’s interesting. It is, I should add, very much about the history of the United States. I’d have to do more reading to know whether or not I agree with it, but it’s definitely filed in the back of my mind as “something to think about.” Like a lot of people, I’ve struggled with exactly how to regard Thomas Jefferson. Anyone else who has pondered that might want to take a look at that article.
Here’s a nice little article on orchids in New Jersey.
When I was in elementary school, we used to have the little box of cards that would have prompts for creative writing assignments. Somehow, I feel like if I had picked a card saying, “Write something with the title, ‘Comics, Porn, Libertarianism and Orchids,’ ” I should have come up with something more interesting than this.
Update: I added two more panels at the bottom.
I mentioned a while back that I’ve been trying to compare several different software programs to choose one. In order to compare them, I wanted to attempt to do something similar on each of the different programs. Since one of the things I wanted to do with the program is draw a comic book, I decided to try something that at least resembles that. So, I decided for the purposes of comparison, that I would try to draw one of Eadweard Muybridge‘s sequences, doing two panels in each of the different programs.
I mentioned when I put up my first character sketch post that I’d drawn some comics in the past. My main influences regarding comics are European comics, mainly things like the sort of stuff that appeared in Heavy Metal when I was a kid. I’m especially fond of Enki Bilal and Guido Crepax. Later, I was heavily influenced by the alternative American comics that came out in the eighties, Los Bros, Bagge, Clowes among others. There are quite a few others I admire from George Herriman to R. Crumb. One characteristic that many of the things I like have in common is that they are created by a single person, or by two close collaborators, as opposed to being a commercial, corporate product.
The downside of this particular art form is that it is extremely time-consuming. One person is doing what would be the jobs of five or six people if it were a superhero comic produced by one of the two big comic book publishers. So, I haven’t drawn any stories in a long time because, when I think of the amount of work it will take to draw even a short one, I change my mind.
Plotting has always been my weak spot when writing, whether we’re talking about comics or prose. So, when I had an idea for a story, complete with a promising seeming plot, I thought to myself that I should try to make something of this. Since it’s something of a dystopian futuristic story, I decided that a visual medium like comics would be better than prose.
Strangely, I’m getting hung up on the characters, which is usually my strong point. Usually, when I write things, I have engaging interesting characters – that do nothing. When I draw, they often look interesting, too. Now, I finally have a damned plot, and I’m struggling to figure out what the characters are like. One, I have, but she’s a secondary character. The big obstacle is that I can’t figure out what my main character looks like. I keep making sketches, hoping that something will strike me. I feel like I need to take a walk around a university campus and look at eighteen year old girls. Maybe I’ll do that today. I hope no one thinks I’m a creep.